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See something? Say something — even if nobody wants to hear about it

Washington and Mackey

With thousands of people set to hit the streets Saturday for the 2018 Seattle Women’s March, an experience at this week’s MLK Day march provides an example for what to do if you see something that doesn’t seem right. See something? Say something — even if the first person you tell doesn’t seem to want to hear about it.

Jacob Washington and his girlfriend Talaya Mackey, students at Seattle Central and president and vice president respectively of the school’s Black Student Union were at the MLK rally event Monday at Westlake Park when Jacob noticed something that wasn’t sitting right.

Washington noticed an uplifted, small, rectangular paving slab as they crossed Westlake Park. Thinking back to his experiences and training from his three years in the army and two tours of duty in Afghanistan as a combat engineer, Washington wanted to play it safe. Thinking it was probably nothing, but knowing the march was set to arrive at Westlake any moment, Washington and Mackey tell CHS they decided to alert police as soon as possible.

After walking the block around Westlake looking for SPD, Washington was about to call 911 when he spotted a patrol car. According to Washington, the officer told him that he “didn’t deal with sidewalks” and that they needed to call another number, to a different department, that cleans sidewalks and puts out cones.

“What do you want me to do, should I pull on it,  jump on it or what,” the officer asked Washington.

Trying to diffuse the situation and show that they’re “on the same team,” Washington joked that’s what he would have done in Afghanistan. When the officer stopped and got out of his car, things escalated into an argument between the two men with Mackey left trying to play peacemaker.  When it was done, the officer commanded the two to leave the area where the MLK rally was to take place.

“It was a waste of 30 to 40 minutes,” Mackey said.

SPD spokesperson Patrick Michaud tells CHS that if marchers do see something that concerns them they should do what Washington and Mackey tried.

“You’ll see lots of cops out there, you can always approach one of them, they’d be more than happy to help you out as long as they aren’t busy doing something else,” he said. “If you don’t spot an officer right away, we ask that you call 911 and we can get someone out there.”

Michaud confirmed that OPA is investigating the MLK march incident.

“As far, as people being comfortable reporting things, absolutely, please just do. It’s the most expedient way to get something taken care of when it comes to something like that, especially on a march” Michaud said. “It might take an officer a little longer to get there if you call 911. If you see someone out there like an officer that you feel comfortable reporting it to, they can get there much faster. ”

Washington tells CHS he’ll probably call next time instead of flagging an officer down, despite the reassurances provided by SPD. “On our part, as civilians, we executed exactly what we were supposed to execute, him, as a law enforcement officer, when he was supposed to make us feel safer, or at least take our concerns seriously, he failed to do so,” Washington said. “When we walked away, we weren’t sure if it was going to be investigated further. Nothing about it seemed like he was in compliance with what ‘See Something, Say Something,’ would imply.”

As for that suspicious paver, Washington said word eventually must have gotten through to someone. An officer eventually showed up to check it out. It was harmless, apparently.

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7 thoughts on “See something? Say something — even if nobody wants to hear about it

  1. One time I found a needle on the sidewalk downtown. I saw a bike cop on the corner and so went to tell him. He pointed out another cop a block away and told me to go report it to him.

    • Once I was on a metro bus and the one other passenger pointed out to the driver there was a needle on the floor (capped). The driver stopped the bus and was about to kick the needle out the door to the curb. I insisted he not do it, that it would potentially jeopardize someone on the street; and that if he was too afraid to touch it, I wasn’t, and I’d take care of it. I took it and disposed of it in a sharps container. I couldn’t believe he’d just kick it out of the bus just to get it away from HIM, risking someone on the street who might not see it.

    • Using the Fit it Fix it app is the best way to deal with discovered needles.

      I try to assume positive intent – maybe the bike cop didnt have the tools readily available to deal with the needle. Possibly focused on other activity and deployed you to another officer who was better equipped. I certainly don’t want a cop on a bike carting a needle if he/she isn’t properly equipped to deal with it.

  2. Just like any other profession, some police officers are jerks. Just like some librarians are jerks, and some computer programmers are jerks.

  3. Oh c’mon he would have not jumped on or pulled at a potential IED when he was downrange. If it was really that serious of a threat, then his patrol would’ve halted, they would’ve cordoned off the area, and investigated for indicators. Did Mr. Washington really want to shut down the march because he saw an upheaved paver and it triggered a flashback to his 12B days?

    With all that being said, the Officer could’ve probably been less of a dick about it.

  4. “When the officer stopped and got out of his car, things escalated into an argument between the two men.” This is incredibly vague. Why did it escalate? Were both the officer and the citizen being combative? Just one? Which?